The complex presence of kava in the Western World: A fascinating perspective of Dr Huffman

A couple of weeks ago we went to one of the Pacific islands that lost its kava culture 150 years ago with the arrival of the European missionaries. But while nobody drinks kava there today, we have good reasons to believe that their forests still have some of the ancient local cultivars and hence we wanted to try to find them. We weren't very successful (i.e. didn't manage to find the actual plants), but found people who might be able to assist us with future searches and/or even send us some samples. On the way back to Auckland I had a bit of time so I finally managed to read a series of articles by Kirk Huffman, a prominent anthropologist and a respected expert on kava's history, culture and modern use. Kirk presents a very interesting overview of kava's history and effects as well as a thought-provoking account of the developments that led to kava's increasing popularity and the so-called "ban" in Europe (now lifted).

I thought you might find some of his observations interesting, so I've collected a few longer quotes:

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Kava drinking in Hamilton: An interview with Dr Apo Aporosa

Last week one of our members travelled down to Hamilton to visit Dr Apo Aporosa, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Waikato who is one of the leading kava scholars and a true enthusiast and promoter of the kava culture. Apo also runs the Waikato University Kava Club and an informal network of local kava drinkers who meet regularly around Hamilton for relaxed kava sessions. Our member had the opportunity to participate in one of their sessions at Apo's place on Sunday and also got a chance to chat about his research projects. He's asked him a few questions that could be of interest and relevance to many other kava drinkers: 

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Kava and performance anxiety

Nicholas Ross Smith, a lecturer at the University of Auckland and the Auckland University of Technology and one of the founding members of our Society is no stranger to public speaking (both at the university and in the NZ media) and to performance anxiety. We've asked him to share some of his thoughts on whether kava could be of any use in such situations. 

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Can kava get you high?

A guest post by Garry Stoner from TK Labs

Does kava get you "high"?

An often asked question, but one that requires some definitions. Most people have no qualms about applying the term to the use of controversial substances like marijuana or to the abuse of common substances (such as sniffing glue), but hesitate to use the word when describing the effects of legally prescribed drugs which induce similar effects. To me, this carries the implication that if you're ingesting a substance under the direction of a "doctor", what you are feeling isn't "high".

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